Ad Gridley was 18 when he had his first cannabis joint while on a gap year in Canada. He had no idea his choices then would – most likely – be the trigger for a 15-year unremitting, downward spiral that would see him diagnosed with schizophrenia and make multiple suicide attempts.
Honest, personal testimonies and viewpoints from former inpatients of secure mental hospitals are rare. I’ve tried suicide six times, been committed ten times and even spent a few nights in a prison. I’ve got all sorts of scars from these times. I’ve lived in the shadow of severe mental health problems for years and now I want to help educate young people and their loved ones. There are serious potential hazards if you use strong cannabis, but, all too often, the risks are brushed under the carpet. It’s heart-breaking when lives are destroyed like this - essentially through ignorance. THC can cause psychosis, but I want to reassure those affected that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
At a time when cannabis is becoming more accepted as harmless (and the emergence of spice fanning the flames in favour of it), my story gains pace all the more. I was a bright, healthy teenager with good grades and a promising career in advertising. But I spent my gap year in Canada constantly getting stoned and returned to the UK a shadow of my former self. Back home, I fell into a cycle of suicide attempts and hospitalisations - resulting from inhaling this “innocent” plant. With these horrific episodes now locked in the past (and my life now a much cleaner place), I can provide insight and advice for others. I am available for interviews, one-to-one consultations or webchats. I can provide a glimpse of what it’s like to languish in hospital, waiting for your weekly wardround with a well-intentioned (yet over-worked and underpaid) psychiatrist.
I left school at eighteen with eight GCSEs and three A-levels. I spent a ruinous year in Western Canada, then returned for a degree course in psychology at the University of London. This fell through, so I attempted a degree course in Spanish and French at the same place. This didn’t go to plan either, so I enrolled on a two-year music GNVQ course, which I passed. Afterwards, there came a short-lived Biosciences and Health course in Leeds and then a couple of failed Open University courses. Throughout my failed attempts at higher learning, I was substantially addicted to cannabis. I’ve been in and out of residential psychiatric care because of the addiction from between 1999-2010. I now draw on my rather turbulent past to help others in similar predicaments to best navigate their obstacles. Currently, I’m a writer.
My book is nonfiction. It is 76,000 words. It’s a unique book because it shows the reader what it’s like to see the world through schizophrenic eyes. This book is written in the first person (currently, no other book can say this). With mental health stories increasingly featuring in films and in the media, my book can inform and reassure families dealing with these problems. It is entirely possible to recover from the fallout of cannabis-related mental health issues. While cannabis becomes more and more accepted as harmless, my tumbling down the rabbit-hole because of it grows all the more relevant. The book is written with humour, sincerity and empathy. I’ve battled with mental health problems for over a decade now. Along with the medication, I now fully appreciate the need for patience and understanding on the healing journey. With all of my experience as an inpatient and an optimist to call upon, I can provide helpful observations and insights for those that need it.
I teach a large, final year Psychology module exploring the causes of, and interventions for, mental health problems. Adam delivered an excellent teaching session to my students in May 2019. He discussed the factors that played a key role in the development of his mental health problems, what it was like to experience psychosis, and what interventions were important in his recovery. Adam covered these sensitive topics thoughtfully and with a great deal of humour. He touched on his own experiences, as well as his perceptions of the experiences of those around him, which was very useful for the students. Moreover, because of the range of topics Adam discussed, I felt that the students could see how Adam’s experiences related to many of the topics they had learned about in the module, but that they were also presented with some new ideas about mental health.
Student feedback on the session Adam delivered was very positive and I will be inviting him to deliver another session in the 2019/2020 academic year.
Dr David Smailes | Department of Psychology | Northumbria University
Profound and powerful
By Green on 16 July 2018 | Amazon.co.uk
"This is a book that is profound and powerful. This book shines a light on the unreported mysterious and overwhelming experience of cannabis –induced psychosis. This shows the impact how the very small things in life can become extreme barriers to do the things that one generally wants to do to live life. This book has humour, and has lighter moments. However, there is no getting away from the paralysing fear that Ad was dealing with for a long period of time. The fascinating insight about the experience of a range of mental health services and the importance of positive therapeutic relationships is useful for anyone to read about that is looking to work in this area of practice.
At the end of the book, I was left with hope. As Ad has come through some extreme distress to write and share his story is testament to demonstrate how individuals, with their family together can move from a place that is so desperate to one that has a future."